Security by design: building a foundation of trust for successful IoT deployments
Securing the Internet of Things (IoT) does not require a radically new, complex set of ideas and principles.
What it needs is an evolution of best practices that have been built up over many years in all areas of IT security.
The starting point for securing an IoT deployment should be the principles of security by design.
Let’s dive in.
What is Security by Design?
Security by design is a methodology that ensures security is a key objective at all stages of product creation and deployment.
It addresses the challenge that in many historic hardware deployments and instances of IoT design: security considerations were often included late in the design and prototyping phase.
By prioritising speed to market or other design considerations, security requirements can end up being added on.
This approach has led to serious security breaches in the past.
Key examples are insecure devices that enable attackers to breach an otherwise secure system or large numbers of connected devices which cannot be upgraded to deal with emerging threats.
Why do we need IoT Security by Design?
Because IoT solutions are often deployed in numbers and in hard to reach locations for a decade or more, pre-planning and foresight are essential to maintaining the integrity of IoT applications.
Compared to IT, the IoT is still in its infancy.
IoT products are not governed by security procedures and standards. Connected devices are sometimes lacking security measures, and in some cases were not meant to be connected to other systems or applications in the first place.
As the security architect for IoT solutions, you'll have to define a strategy for hardware, applications, communication layers and storage that fit with your organisation's security requirements.
The 3 keys to a secure-by-design IoT architecture
#1. The Thales Security by Design approach ensures that IoT security is considered at the beginning of project design. A successful security architecture ensures that devices are protected in the right location and at the right level to meet the needs of each implementation.
In essence, you start with a risk analysis.
You list your threats, vulnerabilities and the probability of an attack happening, and what the impact of that attack would be.
Then decide on appropriate countermeasures.
#2. Thales' security by design strategy begins with a solid foundation of trusted digital device IDs and credentials, which are securely stored in the roots of devices, during manufacturing. Trusted credentials defend against device cloning, data tampering, theft or misuse.
#3. For extra sensitive IoT applications including automotive, healthcare and smart grids, Thales recommends storing IDs and credentials in a tamper-resistant Secure Element to protect both physical and digital access.
Three Keys to Successful Security Strategy
- Security by design approach at the beginning of IoT projects
- Trusted devices IDs and credentials embedded during manufacturing
- Lock IDs and credentials in secure hardware containers
Security-by-design is the foundation of any secure IoT deployment, and pre-embedded IDs and encryption keys are essential elements for secure data encryption, the digital signature of messages and over-the-air device and security updates.
Your defence-in-depth strategy
Security cannot rely on just one security mechanism.
Security by design means thinking like an attacker, and in return, layering defences in a way designed to protect data and devices even in the event of a breach.
These multiple defensive measures known as the in-depth defence principle, mean that should one layer fall to an attacker, other mechanisms remain in place to mitigate potential damage done.
Protecting each part of an IoT deployment – the devices, the gateways and connections, and the cloud layer and users – with these layered defences is to give your network the best cybersecurity architecture.
The approach emphasises reliable identification, authentication and access methods, privilege management and encryption of all data, when it is stored – be it in the device, in a gateway or cloud platform - or when it is in motion on the network or on the way to the cloud.
- Identification, authentication and privilege management improve confidentiality and can guarantee traceability and prevent fraudulent activities.
- Encryption mechanism ensures data confidentiality and integrity, rendering stolen data useless and preventing data tampering.
Securing data on its way to the cloud
Protecting a single device isn’t enough: security by design needs to take the holistic view of what happens when that device is attached to a network.
Pre-embedded keys and credentials are crucial for simplified data enrollment in IoT cloud platforms.
Keys and credentials ensure that IoT devices are authentic and recognised by legitimate partners as trustful.
Essentially, this means external platforms immediately recognise devices and trust is quickly established for future data exchange.
Besides, Thales uses robust encryption technology to protect the integrity of data and to ensure that only authorised devices and apps can access data through secure digital signature schemes.
Once the data has reached external platforms, it should also be protected.
Learn about Thales cloud protection solutions
Learn more about securing data to the cloud
IoT security concerns
99% of organisations surveyed for the 2020 Thales Data Threat Report expressed concerns relating to IoT security.
- How to effectively protect sensitive data?
- How to manage the lack of skills to implement security efficiently?
A security-by-design approach to IoT deployments is designed to mitigate risks like these.
It also assumes that no device or network is 100% secure and that at some stage, a connected device or system could be successfully attacked.
We highlight three critical areas for consideration:
• End-to-end encryption for all communication between IoT devices, machines and back-office systems.
• Protecting data at rest, both from unauthorized access and from being altered.
• Use strong authentication and identity management for all human interactions with IoT devices and data.
Managing the security lifecycle of IoT devices
Managing the lifecycle of security components across the device and cloud spectrum to minimize attack surface is critical to a robust and long-term digital security strategy, and it is often overlooked.
Security is not a one-off activity, but an evolving part of the IoT ecosystem, that should support IoT deployments´ lifecycle in:
- Adding new devices and decommissioning others,
- Onboarding to new cloud platforms,
- Running secure software updates,
- Implementing regulated key renewals,
- Maintaining large fleets of devices.
All these activities necessitate comprehensive management of identities, keys and tokens.
To avoid time-consuming and costly services in the field, Security lifecycle management solutions must be able to facilitate updates remotely and execute them across large scale device fleets.
Thales provides state of the art solutions to build a sustainable security lifecycle management infrastructure to address current and future security threats.